Today I attended the 8th annual Muslimfest Event-Muslimfest 2011. I can’t wait to tell you all how phenomenal this event was-I am going to focus on the mood of the event. I am blown away. Let me share.
With volunteers showing up to the event around 9:00am and Event administrators probably showing up much earlier, I saw a multitude of ambitious vendors setting up their white tents in the newly built 6.6-acre state-of-the-art facility in Celebration Square in Mississauga. While experiencing a ‘feels like’ temperature of 41 degrees Celsius, we saw the scorching heat driving the attendees indoors or under tents. Vendors selling ice cones, ice creams, iced juices were quite obviously busy as they informally took on the responsibility of keeping the attendees “cool”. The camels arrived around noon sometime-yes, real camels from the Bowmanville Zoo. It was a key attraction to the event-so simple, but so cool.
The day seemed to be getting hotter and hotter, almost as though the sun was coming closer and scorching us. The concrete floor was so baked, I could almost feel it through my shoes. But the spirit didn’t die-there was no sign of frustration. It felt like nothing could suppress the enthusiasm surrounding Muslimfest. It was alive and it was on-you could smell the spirit.They also had open tents available for people to pray-men and women alike. The soothing call of the prayer undulated along the cool, moist breeze.
As a Public Relations Representative of Muslimfest, I was responsible for essentially entertaining all the media-people who were interested in writing about us. I was also a ‘tour guide’ for guests attending the event that included Mr. Omar Alghabra, Mr. Navdeep Bains, Mr. Bob Rae and Ms. Bonnie Crombie. As the guests arrived, we fearlessly walked the Celebration Square in the scorching heat, for the umpteenth time. I noticed some interesting things as I walked around later in the afternoon.
1. An adorable little kid tugged my shirt from the back and handed over a water bottle to me and ran away. I traced the kid’s path to see where and why such a blessed thing was happening to me. I was pleasantly surprised to see that a gentleman along with his wife and two little kids brought three crates of water in a kid’s stroller and were distributing it for free to random people! When I asked, the gentleman said that when he came in the morning, he sensed a shortage of water and went ahead and decide to distribute the water to the crowds-as a courtesy.The dua (prayers) that may have spurred out of every attendee…wow.
2. At some point, the water sprinklers or fountain were turned on. People went fanatic. Everybody had to dip their feet into the cool water. Kids took the liberty of removing their clothes and immerse themselves into the water.
3. While waiting in line for food, I overheard a gentleman while he was trying to explain to someone else “how you could get yourself to pray your 5 prayers without missing it”. I couldn’t help but tune into the conversation. He noticed that I was listening. He politely let me listen. He said to the gentleman that “you know when you wake up at Fajr [sunrise time prayers], upon finishing your prayer, you should immediately start thinking about the next prayer and decide exactly when and where you are going to pray it. Once you read your second prayer, start thinking about your third one-almost like it was a meeting-you can’t miss it, and so on”. I found that to be a rather interesting technique. I’m sure it would work.
4. As the clock struck 7:00, the audience frantically arranged themselves in the open air to enjoy their most awaited show of the day by Junaid Jamshed. Amidst the anticipation of Mr. Jamshed’s performance, rain clouds covered the sky from horizon to horizon and when Mr. Jamshed said his first few words, the rain came driving before us in soft sheets of spray. The drops were warm. Everything only became that much more alive. The camels got wet and they smelled like camels. People let themselves get wet. A lot of them squeezed under tents to get shelter but the feeling of those warm raindrops was nothing but rewarding. Within minutes, the rain stopped. Mr. Jamshed managed to hold on to people’s attention amidst the chaos and ofcourse, the sun returned. This time it was soft. It was a beautiful ending an even more beautiful day. I thoroughly enjoyed Muslimfest. It was just Day 1 of a two day event. I can’t wait to go back tomorrow and meet with people that I meet every year to continue to celebrate the best of Muslim art, culture and entertainment with a greater goal of bridging the gap between the Muslim community and our neighbours in Canada.